Life is stirring in Melbourne’s north. Chef Paolo Manotta, the former chef in Vue De Monde, Tipo 00, Kinfolk and the man behind the pop up vegetarian nights called Herbivorous Nights, is taking up residence in a venue Inside Fitzroy’s Rose Street Market. Riso Herbivorous is open as a cafe serving coffee, sandwiches and other breakfast options during the day and a restaurant with an Italian inspired menu at night.
Paolo took Melbourne by storm when straight after coming here about 10 years ago he landed a job at Vue De Monde. After a few years of working in the best hospitality venues around the city, he started yet another venture – vegetarian pop up restaurant dinners. People loved it and dinners kept selling out at least a month in advance.
The name of the venue Riso comes from Italian and it means both rice and laughter – two things which will be plenty in his restaurant.
The menu is vegetarian but the majority of the dishes can be easily made vegan. There’s a set six-course degustation menu for $65 for Friday and Saturday nights which changes every week. The reason for that is that the ingredients are purchased from local farmers and the focus is on seasonal and sustainable produce with minimal waste. Paolo is making vegetarian Italian inspired dishes but always with a twist. The food is simple but it’s always adventurous. Every single dish is flavoursome. So, so much flavour.
Cacio e pepe risotto with a miso and almond paste is a flag dish and a definition of what the dishes are like. You might think it’s simple. But instead of having cheese and pepper sauce with pasta, it is made as a risotto. And miso with almonds to make it vegan. Surprising, wholesome and tasty. There’s homemade focaccia, charcoal peppers with sherry dressing is a perfect dish as an entree. Pasta filled with fresh pesto. And a beautiful ending to the night in a form of lemon and peach puree with dulce de lece.